Moonies hold KOVR hostage

Stolen air time: Because KOVR 13 is the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s only California station, we may be the only audience in the state force-fed a bit of anti-John Kerry propaganda right before we go to the polls. Sinclair has ordered its affiliates to pre-empt prime-time programming sometime during the next two weeks to show Stolen Honor, which bills itself as a “documentary exposing John Kerry’s record of betrayal.”

The 45-minute film, which was put together over the summer and released in early September, has sold less than 5,000 copies so far and, until Sinclair’s announcement, had drawn little attention outside right-wing media circles, much to the chagrin of Kerry-haters.

“If the powerful documentary featuring highly decorated Vietnam POWs recounting how Lt.(jg) John Kerry’s antiwar activity affected them was seen by the huge audience it deserves, Massachusetts’s junior senator wouldn’t get elected to a sanitation commission,” complained Kate O’Beirne, the national editor of the arch-conservative National Review.

Some of Sinclair’s executives apparently felt the same way. After seeing it last week, said Charlie Gerow, a spokesman for the film’s Pennsylvania production company, they asked to air it on their stations, which reach 25 percent of the nation’s viewing public. Gerow said the producers are providing the film to Sinclair for free. “I don’t believe any money is changing hands,” he said.

Stolen Honor is the brainchild of Carlton Sherwood, an ex-Marine and former journalist whose credits include a Pulitzer Prize and a book defending the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. Sherwood, who previously worked for the Moon-owned Washington Times, is also a friend and former employee of Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge. He is now an executive with a Virginia security firm that has received a number of anti-terrorism contracts from the Bush administration.

Although Bites has not yet seen the film, we’re not expecting a paragon of objectivity. Last March, producer Sherwood told Fox News that Kerry’s 1971 description of Vietnam atrocities were “lies” and claimed Kerry was “principally responsible for cementing the image of Vietnam veterans as drugged-out psychopaths who were totally unrestrained and who were a murderous horde.” On the film’s Web site, a poll asks the question: “What should John Kerry do to make amends for having slandered the honor, decency and courage of military veterans of Vietnam and other wars?”

KOVR 13 News Director Jim Lemon did not return calls wondering when we would be graced with Stolen Honor.

So hip it hurts: Back in the early 1990s, Bites had the misfortune of being hit on by Dr. Ruth just outside the love grotto at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion. This long-repressed memory came flooding back last week when it was announced that Sacramento’s favorite millionaires have inked a deal with the king of all rabbit heads to open a Playboy club on the roof of a tower now being constructed opposite their Palms Casino in Las Vegas. The Maloofs are hoping the Playboy club will “lure the hip crowd,” according to a Sacramento Bee headline that did not appear to be intended as irony. Never mind the fact that the Playboy club franchise has been dead longer than Sammy Davis Jr.—the last three clubs in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles all folded back in 1986—or that the likelihood of another lounge revival is more remote than finding weapons of mass destruction in, um, Hef’s love grotto. Then again, who are we kidding? This is Vegas, land of Siegfried & Roy, Wayne Newton and Liberace! If there’s anywhere the rabbit-headed franchise could make a comeback, Vegas is it. And after reading “O diva, where art thou?,” a front-page feature in which J. Freedom du Lac manages to squeeze out nearly 1,500 breathless words on “bilingual balladeer” Celine Dion canceling a show in Las Vegas, Bites has no doubt that the Bee is the paper to cover it.

More adventures in time travel: Lewis Lapham isn’t the only political commentator who’s taken to time traveling of late (see “Tentacles of Scoopy,” SN&R Bites, September 23). Last week, several hours before the Cheney-Edwards debate actually took place, SN&R began receiving e-mails declaring Edwards the clear winner. It’s good to see that Democrats are finally getting in on the old astroturfing act that was once the sole terrain of right-wing Freepers. But they really do need to work on their timing.